The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) welcomes the increased allocation, for public health services, of €685 million announced, today, by the Government.
The INMO notes the stated commitment, within the budget allocation, to increase the number of frontline posts by 1,800 in 2018. However it must be noted that the commitment, contained in last year’s budget statement and in the staffing agreement reached between the Department of Health/HSE and the INMO, explicitly provided for over 1,000 additional nursing/midwifery posts for our public health service in 2017.
However, in the latest employment census it was confirmed that only thirteen additional nursing staff have been recruited in the first nine months of this year. This fact confirms that the Irish public health service continues to face a nursing/midwifery recruitment/retention crisis.
The additional funding, while welcome, must also be considered in the context of the record number of patients (over 73,000), admitted for care in our hospitals, who have found themselves on trolleys in the first nine months of this year. It is absolutely imperative that the access plan, contained within today’s allocation, delivers additional nursing staff which must, in turn, provide for additional acute and long-term care beds so that these admitted patients can be cared for properly with privacy and dignity.Opportunity
The INMO is scheduled to meet with the Minister for Health, Mr Simon Harris TD, shortly to discuss the implementation of the funded nursing/midwifery workforce plan for 2017, agreed last March. The Organisation will take that opportunity to seek further details, about the health budget allocation for 2018, with specific reference to; How, within the increased allocation, will the Government ensure that all recruitment targets,
set to restore the nursing/midwifery workforce, are met?
How will the budget allocation ensure that the various nursing/midwifery initiatives, including
the staffing taskforce (which will determine how safe staffing levels are determined
and maintained), are implemented, throughout the health service, to improve access and
the quality of patient care?
Guaranteeing that all nurses/midwives, graduating in 2018, will be offered permanent fulltime
posts, immediately, to ensure they are available to our very understaffed health service;
Speaking last night INMO General Secretary Designate Phil Ní Sheaghdha said, “The increase in the health allocation should be welcomed. However, the challenges facing our health system, in terms of meeting demand, recruiting/retaining the nursing and midwifery workforce and expanding services, particularly in primary care, make it essential that all of this additional money is channelled into the frontline where the patient must come first.
The IMMO remains very concerned, in the absence of enhanced terms and conditions of employment, that, notwithstanding any budgetary commitments, the Irish public health service will not be able to recruit and retain the number of additional nurses/midwives required to meet existing service need and ever-increasing demands. The reality is that last year’s commitment, to recruit over 1,000 nurses/midwives, has not been delivered.”
Ms Ní Sheaghdha concluded, “It is also disappointing that there appears to be no overt provision, in the form of a protected budget, to begin implementing the SláinteCare Report which has cross party support.
At our forthcoming meeting, with the Minister, the INMO will raise all of our concerns including the implementation of all agreements the INMO has, with health management, in such critical areas as staffing levels, to ensure safe patient care and further measures necessary to address the record numbers of patients on trolleys”.